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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Island fishing ban plan rejected
Puffins on Skomer Island. Photo: (DA Lewis)
Skomer Island is home to variety of wildlife
A proposed ban on fishing around an island off the Pembrokeshire coast that divided conservationists and fishermen has been rejected.

Plans for Skomer Island Nature Reserve to be the first "no take" zone in Wales were put forward by reserve officers.

They said limiting angling and phasing out commercial fishing would help to protect the sea bed and wildlife.

But fishermen opposed the move and won the backing of members of the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee (SWSFC).

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), which manages the reserve, wanted to phase out commercial lobster potting over the next decade and restrict angling.

We hope they now decide to work with the industry rather than try to close it down
David Gardner

It backed proposals that went before the committee this week, but these were rejected.

Nature reserve officer Philip Newman said: "It came as a bit of a shock that they just said 'no' completely.

"The idea was to allow registered users of the marine nature reserve to continue fishing under a permit scheme for 10 years or possibly more but we did not get that far."

He said it would have allowed fishermen who made a living from the waters to continue to do so until retirement, but would stop anyone fromtaking their place.

"Basically there were a number of options that they could have followed but they did not proceed with any of them."

If the proposal had been approved it would then have gone before the Welsh Assembly Government.

Skomer Island
Skomer Island is the only marine nature reserve in Wales

Mr Newman said the aim was to secure the same safeguards for wildlife within the marine reserve as apply to nature reserves on the mainland.

He said it would now be up to the CCW advisory committee what it would do next but said he expected they would look at other ways of introducing legislation to implement the ban.

Fishermen said the CCW had failed to demonstrate that fishing off the island caused any harmful impact.

David Gardner, regional development officer with the South and West Wales Fishing Communities Limited, said: "Fishermen want to protect the environment because they want good fish stocks - they don't want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

"We have asked the CCW in the past for information as to why a 'no take' zone was required and what evidence they had fishing was a damaging activity but they have not provided any answers.

"We hope they now decide to work with the industry rather than try to close it down."

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02 Mar 05 |  South West Wales
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01 Feb 05 |  South West Wales
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